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Am I Losing The Real Me?

Before I got totally hooked, unable to stay lucid without three or four hits a day, the main draw was how it made me feel: #smooth, #woke, rather #cool. But then, within just a year, I needed stronger, more frequent shots and Instant Nescafe never satisfied me properly again. I moved to Davidoff and soon afterwards became a regular at my neighbourhood Costa, where I’d buy a short mocha everyday. #notinstantcoffee #instacoffee

When too many Costas in Delhi began to close down I became uneasy. I decided I had to have the next best thing, and so, amid searches for exotic Peruvian dishes and protein shakes that claimed to grow muscles with minimal physical effort, I got Googling for substitute options. And there were so many now. There was Coffee Bean and Tealeaf, and Blue Tokai, and Sleepy Owl, in addition to the old Café Coffee Day and Barista. And of course, there was Starbucks; which even though not my first choice, it’s where I’m now, standing in line between a guy flipping through Tinder profiles and a girl furiously WhatsApping, while I myself scroll down my Facebook Newsfeed: each one of us scratching the surface of our most recently acquired appendage in this present state of human advance. 

There’s an anti-Trump article in The New York Times and another one about our Government’s accomplishments in The Economic Times. (Information, opinion, misinformation, there is so much of it all these days and it’s hard to tell which is which, particularly when you can’t even bother to click on a headline.) Then a round of pouty selfies of a boy flexing his gym-fresh muscles. And then an article linked by my mother on the powers of Pranic Healing.

It’s all pretty standard, expected, not exceptional, but nevertheless I carry on scrolling.

Ah! Finally, something interesting: a video on Dan Dan noodles. What deft blade strokes! The sizzle of garlic frying in a wok, the on-point delivery. I am rapt.

You see, I’m food obsessed. So much so that if you were to ask my friends they’d tell you, he takes pictures of all his meals. (Not true! I take one only every couple of days.) And can you really blame me given that my phone, which knows things about me better than I myself do, is always on hand? Like it knows I can’t stop myself from clicking on food related thingies (reviews, pictures, recipes) and so it fills my virtual space with them, all the time. And I think I’m quite normal in this regard, too. Seriously. Because nowadays everybody has a ‘thing’ and it just so happens that mine is food.

It’s my turn and I look up. “Sir, would you like Tall or Grande?”

They never suggest the small option. “The smallest, please.”

“Cream?”

“No”.

“Do you have a Starbucks card?”

“No, thanks.” 

“If you get a Starbucks card….”

I’ve been through this routine hundreds of times before and I hold up my phone. “Look! I have Zomato and I collect points at Nandos. I’m a member of EatTreat, Foodtalk India and two other groups. I think that’s enough.” I don’t mention that I also follow videos of Buzzfeed and Gobble on Facebook, of Foodwishes and Maangchi on Youtube, and get feeds by Nigella and Gary Mehigan on Instagram. And since I saw Chef’s Table on Netflix, of Ivan Orkin, too.

The server laughs and I go back to tapping my computerized limb. “Sir, your name?”

But before I can answer him again I have a flash of truth—it is the kind that can come only in my present state, overpowered as I am by the smell of coffee and perfume, my eyes and ears brimming with electronic chatter–and it is that we, we urbanite millennials, all want the exact same things in life. And they aren’t contentment, tranquility or inner peace.

Oh, no. We want frothy cappuccinos, sharp beard-cuts and the smartest phones.  Continue reading Am I Losing The Real Me?

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Reflections Amid The Chest Thumping

What saddens me most about today’s result is not so much the result itself, this I knew in my heart of hearts, but the affirmation of ‘How’ too many Indians think and believe. And how way removed this Brain is from mine. Granted, everybody is unique, a computer which can process data only in a manner that seems most logical to it. But still, How … Continue reading Reflections Amid The Chest Thumping

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Travel, Turkey, Globalisation, Politics

I wanted to share some observations about my recent trip to Turkey before they’re lost to memory: First: Men smoked everywhere. All across the country people puffed cigarettes, cigars and sheesha. I even saw a public toilet door with a picture of a man with a cigar between his lips. Was this the quintessential Turk? Then I came across images of an indomitable Kemal Atarturk, … Continue reading Travel, Turkey, Globalisation, Politics

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Travelogue: Japan, Seen Through Indian Eyes

Day 1/ Tokyo arrives! The British Isles. Is what I am reminded of, taking in the swathes of lush green as I peer out the descending plane window this grey spring morning. In geography, Japan is like the UK; a cluster of islands off the mainland. The unpredictable sprayish rain and the chilly gale-force winds are traits common to both (as I will experience). But … Continue reading Travelogue: Japan, Seen Through Indian Eyes

Article 15: Movie Review

Article 15 is a courageous movie, a good movie, a much-needed movie (in that it brings the burning issue of ‘caste’ to mainstream audiences), and one in which the lead, Ayushman Khurana, as well as the supporting actors have all done an admirable job. It was heartening to see a packed cinema despite the grim subject matter (the rape and murder of a couple of … Continue reading Article 15: Movie Review

Jallikattu, moral relativism and the rights of bacteria.

Last year I’d gone to Kullu in Himachal Pradesh to observe the Dushehra celebrations there.  I had heard that at the festival 5 animals were typically slaughtered  before being offered to the gods and then consumed. The Raja of Kullu had made the point that “what we did is no different to what a butcher does”.  (I wrote about my experience here.) Still, the practice was banned … Continue reading Jallikattu, moral relativism and the rights of bacteria.

X-Men Apocalypse Review: Resurrected Mummy Meets X-Men

“Why be different when you can look like everybody else?” Nightcrawler (the blue-hued teleporter) questions Mystique (the also naturally-blue-hued shapeshifter) in X2, to which she pointedly responds, “because we shouldn’t have to”. In The Last Stand, Storm, at learning that non-mutants have developed a cure that permanently suppresses the Mutant X-gene, cries, “a cure for all mutants? But we don’t need a cure. Since when … Continue reading X-Men Apocalypse Review: Resurrected Mummy Meets X-Men

Cambodia: My Family And Other Temples

PART I  (A lightly edited version of this Part I was published on Youthkiawaaz.com. It can be read here) “Sir, a taxee vee be de ad aaepo tomoro to pi you ub”, our prospective tour-guide said over the phone. “Da ca numba e 4-1-9-7. OK?”   “ya, thanks, Johnney”, I said. “I’ll be on the look out.” Scores of westerners and a handful of Asians … Continue reading Cambodia: My Family And Other Temples

Breaking Bad Roadtrip: Buddha’s Bodh Gaya; A Bihari Odyssey

Buddha’s Bodh Gaya by Dusk We reached Bodh Gaya at about 6 in the evening that same day. The drive from Varanasi was about 3 to 4 hours and the roads were in a fairly good shape. As you move eastward from UP the surrounding greenery deepens and multiplies abundantly. Bodh Gaya seemed like a small, largely underdeveloped town. Yet it is one where grand … Continue reading Breaking Bad Roadtrip: Buddha’s Bodh Gaya; A Bihari Odyssey